Data from the South Bend Police Department show more shootings in 2017 but fewer use of force incidents, and other positives in the numbers.
There were 102 shootings in South Bend in 2017. That’s up from 81 in 2016.
Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski said they’re not happy with the numbers.
“Obviously we had an uptick from shootings in 2016 to 2017. None of us at this table, none of us not at this table, are happy with it at all. One is too many, period.”
Ruszkowski said in the first six months of the year they were on track to clock about 120 shootings for the year. He said changes in how they were policing neighborhood brought the number down for the second half of the year.
“Instead of saturating a neighborhood, we’re being absorbed into the neighborhoods. Instead of occupying a neighborhood, we become occupants of a neighborhood. People should expect to see us and be comfortable with us in the neighborhoods to give us the information that we need to stop these things from happening.”
Uses of force incidents are down, so are complaints from the community about police actions.
Ruszkowski said he hopes continuing to put an emphasis on community oriented policing will bring all crime numbers down.
“Any of the shooting numbers or the robbery numbers or whatever, we want those to be zero. We’d love to have our arrests be zero, our tickets be zero, our uses of force be zero and certainly our complaints to be zero and we can do that if everything else is zero. And I’m not being facetious I promise you but someday I would love to see us get to that point.”
The number of victims unwilling to press charges or work with the police went down in 2017. Ruszkowski credited the community focus and a second shift of investigators that get to crime scenes more quickly after a crime happens.
SBPD has reported statistics in real time on a transparency hub for the last few years. Ruszkowski said he hopes community members use the hub to see what is happening with crime in the city.
There are also monthly community meetings at the police department on the first Thursday of each month at 6:30. Community members are encouraged to come and ask questions or air grievances. The next meeting is on January 11.